I packed my suitcase on Oct. 2nd and looked forward to a great holiday. I was heading to the spa city of Bad Woerishofen in Bavaria, a place I had visited more than thirty times in the past. Over the years, I always stayed in the same lovely family hotel, even in the same room. It became my ‘home away from home’. A short 17 minute flight brought me from Nanaimo to the International Airport in Vancouver B.C. on the third of October. When I boarded the Lufthansa flight 477 to Munich and settled into my seat 2D, my anticipation of a wonderful three weeks rose by several degrees. A gentleman sat next to me in the aisle seat. Since I had the window seat I didn’t need to be concerned of being disturbed. I leaned back and with a smile on my face I closed my eyes and thought of the wonderful time awaiting me. When I woke up we were already flying into the clouds… We had an award winning Lufthansa dinner (no, I didn’t want any wine) and it didn’t take long before the window blinds were closed. Some folks settled down for the coming night.
One couple had a bag with a beautiful cat between them. I had met them earlier in the Air Canada Lounge ladies room. The cat was trained to do her business on the toilet. Incredible! I started reading a book I had downloaded onto my i-Pad. I was unable to concentrate. I soon took my glasses off, put them into their case and into the pouch on the seat in front of me. The man next to me was already sleeping; we never exchanged a single word during the whole trip.
I pressed some buttons and my seat extended to full length and I had a flat bed with pillow and blanket. Several times I had to climb over the legs of my neighbour – he never noticed. After a hot cloth to wake up and a breakfast in the middle of the night (my time), we touched down in Munich ten-and-a-half hours later. It was already October the 4th. My pick-up was arranged. My driver did not take the autobahn but beautiful country roads. Too much construction, he told me. The Munich Airport now has three terminals with a train running between them. I remember when there was only one terminal. Those were the times when everything was easy.
I was greeted with welcoming hugs at my hotel. My suitcase disappeared and I took the stairs up to my usual room. Unpacking didn’t take too long. I was anxious to send a message home and looked for my glasses. My glasses? Where were my glasses…Oh, dear God, I left them in the pouch in front of my airplane seat. I installed the hotel ‘Wi-Fi’ password and used my i-Pad to send a message to my husband. I asked him to get in touch with my travel agent. I figured they have a better chance to contact Lufthansa and their ‘Lost & Found’ than I did. I phoned my husband five times before I gave up. I went to the hotel office and the hostess spent the next three hours following the prompts “click this, click that” on the Lufthansa website until she finally was able to send an e-mail to the right place.
“Passenger G.R. in seat 2 D of flight # 477 Vancouver-Munich arriving Oct. 4th left a pair of glasses with a gold frame in a black leather cover and a purple cleaning cloth in the pouch in front of her seat. Please contact… or mail to…”
When I tried to use my i-Pad again a message in a little window told me that it was locked for my own protection. I couldn’t be in two countries on two different continents at the same time. My husband had needed to access my e-mail account in Canada! ‘We suspect a hacker. Once you are back in Canada you can re-set etc. etc.’ I was devastated. No chance to delete all the hundreds of e-mails I would receive? No chance to send any? No chance to read my e-books? According to “Murphy’s Law”, what else would happen? It’s always three things, right? Well, the third thing was my blood pressure monitor. Despite the fact that it was working at home, it did not work in Germany. So much for that! Now, what else could go wrong? The first week was alright.
I decided to enjoy the rich buffet and not eat just bran and soaked linseed with yogurt as I did at home. Cold cuts, eggs, wonderful cheeses and all those different types of bread and buns on the buffet and the creamy cottage cheese and the jams and fruits and and… Every day was a feast! My youngest sister and her husband stopped by with their RV on their way to Italy, my two cousins from Cologne came for four days – needless to say that we regularly visited one of the many cafés. We had coffee and sampled a piece of wonderful cake every day. Cheese cake, poppy seed cake, plum cake, you name it.
Lufthansa sent an e-mail to my hotel with a number to claim my missing glasses. When my cousins flew back to Cologne on the 9th they were able to pick them up at the Munich airport “Lost & found”. They took them to Cologne and mailed them to me from there. I had used a pair of magnifying glasses up to now, and my eyes had always hurt. Once my visitors were all gone I felt lost and lonely. I even cried a little. Will I ever be able to come back or see them again? I checked the hotel library and found some interesting German books. I read a lot! I also found a music channel on the TV and sometimes watched the international news about the upcoming US election. One morning, I got up and almost fell on my face. I couldn’t use my left foot, the big toe hurt something awful and the pain was ten out of ten. In the doctor’s office, I was told I have a gout attack. Gout? Isn’t that something old people get? The nurse said, “you are kinda old, aren’t you?” I got pills and a cream to rub my toe with. The pills made me double over, my stomach didn’t like them.
“What did you eat this morning? Cereal with milk or yogurt? You cannot have any milk products, no yogurt, no red meat, no coffee, no alcohol, no…”
“But what can I eat?”
I was advised to eat a piece of dry bread before taking the pill. After that nothing for a few hours. Apparently, I had enjoyed the buffet and the cafés too much and I now had to pay for my sins. The pounds I might have gained during the first week disappeared during the last two weeks of my holiday. I was mainly lying on my bed reading, afraid to eat anything. I was living on dry bread, horsetail- and stinging nettle tea to help my body to get rid of extra uric acid. This was not what I came for. I could hardly wait to go home. The Lufthansa service with wheel-chair assistance was second to none on my flight back. My doctor in Canada prescribed different pills which are not attacking my stomach. I still am on a restricted diet and the pain is less – but not gone. How long does it take to get rid of a gout attack? And how do you really know it is gout? What is the proper procedure to diagnose it?
I had 1458 e-mails on my computer when I came home. As I started ‘deleting’ more rolled in. One of them was dated October 5th from Lufthansa:
“This is to inform you about a found property at our office for cabin lost and found items, which is probably yours: A pair of glasses in a black softshell pouch together with a purple cleaning cloth of the West Vancouver Optometry Clinic was found on board of flight LH435 from Chicago today. Your business card was inside the pouch.”
If I had received that on October 5th a lot of anxiety on my part would have been avoided. I couldn’t do without glasses but I discovered there is a life without the Internet. But gout is something else I would rather manage without.
Hi Giselle….Great blog. Very interesting, and informative. You’ve been there over 30 times!!!??? Incredible. I’m so sorry your long awaited wonderful vacation, had so many negative aspects to it. There’s nothing worse than being sick on a vacation…especially in another country. If you recall, I ended up in a Mexican hospital, my last vacation. Scary…especially when there’s a communication problem. I am having a difficult time believing that there actually is life beyond the Internet. I mean, honest??? I’m not sure I ever want to find that out. I admit to having a huge addiction I’d love to kick but I’m not sure I have that kind of strength. I’m glad you’re home now, safe and sound, and I look forward to our continued correspondences. …. Thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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Oh dear! Sorry to hear of your travel woes. And here I thought you’d had a lovely time in Europe. Here’s hoping you’ll be back on track in no time. Take care, Giselle.
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Reblogged this on Elisabeth Marrion.
“Wenn jemand eine Reise tut, dann kann er was erzaehlen”. Old German wisdom! If someone takes a trip he can tell a story! – loosely translated.
Goodness! Not what I expected to read about your trip at all! Sorry to hear about the gout… very painful. Glad you are at least home now safe and sound. Warm thoughts, see you soon!